A new medical research study from Spain indicates that medical marijuana
may be effective in helping to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia,
particularly in reducing overall pain, alleviating stiffness, enhancing
relaxation, improving rest and fostering a sense of well being. That’s
one of the conclusions from a report published in the Public Library of
Science, "Cannabis use in patients with
fibromyalgia: effect on
symptoms are relief and health-related quality of life."
Although fibromyalgia has been studied for over a century, the journal
Current Pain and Headache
Reports states that in the
past this disease was conflated with rheumatism. The public has really
only begun to appreciate the scope and public health costs of
fibromyalgia over the past 20 years. With over 12 million sufferers,
fibromyalgia is now considered the second most common musculoskeletal
condition in the US after arthritis. Women are at particular risk, being
10x more likely than men to suffer from fibromyalgia.
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are diffused as well as
pinpoint muscle and joint pain. Patients also commonly suffer from
anxiety, difficulty sleeping, incapacitating fatigue, chronic headaches,
restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and a very
low pain threshold.
Fibromyalgia has proven very difficult to treat – according to a study
from the Tufts University School of Medicine, only 35% of
are able to obtain relief with traditional medication. Additionally,
traditional medications like Lyrica, Symbalta and Savella often have
serious side effects. This is a significant concern, as many patients
with fibromyalgia are also prescribed anti-depressants.
In support of the Spanish research, a National Pain Foundation
of more than 1,300 fibromyalgia patients reported that 62 percent of
patients taking medical marijuana found cannabis to be effective in
relieving their symptoms. The endocannabinoid system in these patients
does not provide enough of a feedback loop to decrease or stop pain
signals. Perhaps a result of increased sensitivity, a defect in
neurotransmitter release or the blockage of pathways that the body
employs to inhibit pain signals is highly problematic. It is
hypothesized that the cannabinoids in medical marijuana can "reset" or
block this to decrease the symptoms. Oral tablets tend to be the
preferred delivery method for patients looking to achieve timed release
for longer lasting effects, while inhalation of cannabis smoke tends to
provide more rapid pain relief because the medicine enters the blood
stream more directly.
The use of cannabinoids for pain relief and reducing stiffness represent
areas of research where modern science agrees with the ancient healing
practice. For fibromyalgia sufferers, marijuana can provide pain relief
without the negative side effects of commercial pharmaceuticals.